British police officer to face racism charge

Apr 17, 2012, 12:26 PM

LONDON (AP) – A London policeman will face criminal charges for allegedly racially abusing a black man detained during last year’s London riots, prosecutors said Tuesday, reversing an earlier decision not to charge the officer.

The Crown Prosecution Service said there was enough evidence to charge Constable Alex MacFarlane with “a racially aggravated public order offense.”

A 21-year-old man who was detained during the week of riots, but not charged, recorded a police officer using a racial epithet as he arrested him.

Prosecutors decided in January not to charge the policeman, but reconsidered after the arrested man’s lawyers complained.

Alison Saunders, the chief prosecutor for London, said the original decision was wrong.

“I have taken the decision in this case that, as well as there being sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, and a prosecution being in the public interest, a prosecution is necessary in order to maintain confidence in the criminal justice system,” she said.

Metropolitan Police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe has vowed to stamp out racism in the force.

London police have long attempted to tackle allegations of racism. A major report commissioned after the 1993 death of a black teenager concluded that Scotland Yard was “institutionally racist” and had failed to properly investigate the killing because of its hostility to London’s black community.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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British police officer to face racism charge